Information and communication technology (ICT) is used in a smart city to improve government efficiency, public engagement and the standard of living for its residents.
Advanced technologies and data analytics are at the heart of the concept of a “smart city,” whose primary goals are the enhancement of city services, the promotion of economic growth, and the betterment of residents’ quality of life.
The recent pandemic and other critical events have forced the citizens of the Philippines, as it has in other countries, to rely on their government for a wide range of services to be offered innovatively.
Agencies moved rapidly to digitalise services and set standards for data storage, security and workflow. Central and local governments have implemented a wide range of ICT strategies to lessen the impact of these catastrophes.
For instance, Makati City, the business capital of the Philippines, launched the Makatizen Card and the Makatizen App to offer financial help and services, such as online legal assistance, teleconsultations, and online learning, to its residents.
Challenges Turn Inspiration: Embarking on Smart City Projects
“We will be able to increase our revenue and service efficiency through innovation,” Charles asserts, citing the recently launched “MakaTurismo” website to underscore his point, which was made to help the local tourism sector.
The website is Metro Manila’s first travel website focused on attracting tourists into a post-pandemic environment. Apart from the lifestyle centres, eateries, and hotels, the City of Makati is home to numerous undiscovered treasures, such as special historical sites.
Since it includes details about the city’s tourist attractions, lodging options and free walking tours, the project could significantly assist businesses in attracting clients and customers.
While discussions of digital transformation typically centre on improvements to remote working capabilities, Makati City has instead begun investing in infrastructure upgrades. As a result, they are modernising their server infrastructure by switching from a physical to a software-defined network (SDN) and merging various data centres.
Charles noted that Makati City is concerned with project implementation and database consolidation. In addition, they integrate analytics into all projects and increase automation to improve their functional services.
Makati City opened the Makatizen Hub in 2021, to further assist its citizens in their transactions during the ongoing pandemic. The local government has set up satellite offices so that everything can be done online.
Charles emphasises that, as they integrate technology in a variety of ways, they are centralising a strategic approach to planning and managing the direction of the city government’s use of technology.
To accommodate its diverse population, Makati provides a wide range of publicly available services. In addition, there are services designed exclusively for residents, catering to their unique requirements based on factors such as age, health, education and overall satisfaction with life.
The city has been able to successfully manage these programmes, but officials are always looking for ways to improve efficiency. This is made possible in large part by technological advancements. As the population of Makati expands, so do the city’s needs and the hopes and dreams of its residents.
The responsibility of the administration lies in anticipating the wants and needs of the people. By bolstering them with cutting-edge tech, agencies can reimagine service delivery and foresee what people will need in the future.
As an example of a programme designed for the future but implemented today, the Makatizen Card is a useful tool. The Makatizen Card is an innovative programme that provides residents of Makati with access to a variety of new social, informational, identifying and financial services.
For more than half a million people living in Makati, this single government-issued ID card unifies access to a wide range of economic and social services.
Charles is one of the authors of IT Security – the Security 3.0 book, published by Mithra Publishing in London. It discusses the infrastructure framework’s fundamentals that underpin the city’s primary data centre and the local government information system that has recently undergone upgrades.
“The data centre’s IT capabilities can only be improved through upgrades. By upgrading ageing or inefficient IT assets, they improve reliability, performance, efficiency, cost, security, and uptime -which resulted in serving the public efficiently,” Charles explains, further elaborating on the steps taken by the municipal government to improve flood and earthquake early warning systems.
Makati was named the first-ever Resilience Hub in the Philippines and the Southeast Asian Region by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) in the third quarter of this year.
According to the UNDRR, a resilience hub is a city, municipality, or local authority with the political will and expertise to take action to reduce vulnerability to disasters and climate change. With the help of the Making Cities Resilient Campaign (MCR), which Makati joined in 2010, the city has successfully integrated disaster risk reduction into all its strategic plans and programmes. The region’s cities have joined several international networks to learn from and implement its DRR best practices.
Additionally, in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry – Board of Investments (DTI-BOI), Digital Pilipinas officially launched its Innovative Cities initiative to technologically advance one city at a time. It does this by bringing together local government agencies, academic institutions and the private sector to establish numerous centres of excellence.
In association with the Resiliency Innovation Sustainability & Entrepreneurship (RISE) Certification Programme, the City of Makati was selected as the programme’s pilot location. With a focus on making the Philippines relevant in digitalisation and Web 3.0 conversation, the Innovative Cities initiative seeks to increase the Philippines’ innovation and technology quotient to support local economies and expand their industries.
The city’s digital transformation journey in local government has been completed at minimal or no cost. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been used to implement larger-scale projects and some solutions have been provided for free in exchange for Makati serving as a model for the adoption of these technologies by other LGUs and institutions. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020, Makati was still able to serve its citizens efficiently without endangering their health.
A true and effective digitalisation strategy entails a fundamental rethinking of the traditional organisational structures of industrial activities and business models to make them significantly better.
With the help of Makati Mayor Abby Binay, who is very encouraging of digital transformation, these initiatives were able to come to fruition. Charles believes that the use of technology and innovations is merely a tool to accomplish this goal, so it’s critical to pick the approaches that can most effectively help an application achieve its objectives.
“Digital transformation is, at its core, a mindset. It is a long-term, ongoing journey rather than a single undertaking or endpoint. As the business changes and appropriate technologies become available, iteration is necessary.”
Thailand’s digital economy has expanded tremendously in recent years and is poised for additional growth. In line with this, the Thailand 4.0 strategy seeks to turn the nation into Southeast Asia’s innovation and knowledge-based digital centre.
The country is well on its way. The European Centre for Digital Competitiveness classified Thailand as the second most digitally competitive country in 2020, attributing its success to expanding its ecosystem and the region’s shifting perspective toward recognition.
Despite the considerable growth potential for Thailand’s digital economy, the country faces several obstacles to reaching its full potential. These include a digital talent shortage and a delay in the adoption of digital solutions by small and medium organisations.
Both the public and private sectors are eager to learn about successful digital transformation methods as they recognise such insights are critical for businesses to survive and grow in the current digital landscape.
Fostering Digital Transformation and Competitiveness in Thailand
Dr Kasititorn shares that the country has achieved its national target in the Thailand Digital Economy and Society Development Plan, which is in line with Thailand’s 20-Year Strategy. To fully integrate digital technology into every aspect of business in Thailand, they have been working on this plan since 2018.
This national plan is comprised of 4 phases 1) digital foundation 2) digital inclusion 3) full digital transformation and 4) global digital leadership.
“We are off to a solid start as our first two phases have been successfully implemented and influencing Thai’s economy are currently in the third phase.”
Even a cursory observation shows that there is a high level of digital awareness among Thai people, while analysed data reveals more.
As per a survey by the National Statistical Office of Thailand, 93.8% of the country’s population use mobile phones and 68.1% take advantage of mobile banking in 2021, giving Thailand the top spot in the world. In addition, 86.3% use the internet and 87.7% have access to the internet at home.
Dr Kasititorn emphasises that Thailand is very well equipped for the impending transformation that it will experience soon. “To bolster the depa’s efforts through the Digital Economy Promotion Master Plan, we have been supporting the use of digital technology in diverse sectors, starting with agriculture, manufacturing and services and moving on to communities to progress towards Thailand 4.0.”
As of today, most industries have already surpassed a 2.0 digital density index, with the service sectors like finance and tourism leading the way.
To cater to the demand side of the digital economy, the depa also promotes the supply side, including digital entrepreneurs and suppliers. As a digital workforce is essential for effectively transforming the nation, the depa has been working with various groups of individuals for training, retraining and upskilling.
“We aspire that Thailand achieves digital transformation on a national scale with all sectors and all groups of people embracing digital technologies,” says Dr Kasititorn.
They intend to accomplish this goal by first, getting all sectors, particularly SMEs, ready for digital transformation. The industry must recognise the power of digital technology that could support the expansion of their businesses. This strategy makes use of mechanisms like awareness-raising, capacity-building, business matching and finance in the form of incentive vouchers for matching money.
Second, increasing the capacity and standards of digital service providers. Without dependable digital services, indigenous industries would not be able to achieve digital integration. The depa strives to increase the capacity and level of service offered by digital service providers.
The standardisation voucher, startup fund, RDI fund, and other similar funds are all tools used to assist digital service providers. To ensure that the sector has enough talent to fuel the development of product and service innovation, the digital industry can also be promoted through the development of its human resources.
Third, Building a digital ecosystem in Thailand. Thailand Digital Valley (TDV) aims to build Thailand’s digital ecosystem and prepare Thailand to serve as an ASEAN Digital Hub.
TDV will stimulate investments from top-tier technology corporations and startups while promoting the growth of digital services and technologies. TDV will also support the development of Thai entrepreneurs and digital service providers’ competitiveness and competence so that they can compete on a global scale.
When asked if digital transformation needs a cultural paradigm shift, Dr Kasititorn concurs. She is convinced that such a shift results from the necessity to alter the entire system. For entrepreneurs to transition from the analogue era to the digital one, they must adopt a new and distinct style of thinking.
A great example of the need for a perspective is the agricultural sector. According to the study findings of the depa’s Digital Density Index Series 2021, the concentration of digital technology adoption in agriculture (ranging from 1.0 to 4.0) is still around 2.0 at every step of production.
Most farmers who do not use digital technologies are inexperienced small farmers with limited resources. Given that Thailand is primarily an agricultural country, the sector may need to undergo the greatest change.
It must transition from the traditional labour-intensive one to the technology-intensive one. For instance, using drones, robots, sensors, big data and artificial intelligence for farm operation and supply chain management.
For the agriculture sector to be digitalised, there will need to be a paradigm shift in mindset, significant investment in training new generations of farmers and substantial initial expenditure.
Most Thai manufacturing companies already understand that they must embrace digital transformation if they are to survive and grow in the new era of production. As manufacturing involves a significant amount of business and technological expertise as well as long-term investment commitment, businesses are cautiously and slowly transitioning to the digital era.
To support this, it will be necessary to leverage technologies like ERP, IoT, Big Data, AI, Advanced Robotics, AR/VR, and 3D printing for a variety of purposes, including cost-cutting, boosting productivity and operational efficiency, managing supply chains and developing new goods and services.
Finally, when it comes to the service sector, Thailand’s tertiary companies have made significant progress in their digital transformation efforts. Tourism and allied businesses, transportation and logistics and finance and banking are the main industries that have excelled in the digital revolution.
The tourism sector has undergone a significant digital revolution, as most tourists now buy goods and services online. Thailand has gradually digitised its transportation and logistics systems, which has had a multiplicative impact on the effectiveness and productivity of other economic sectors. Sectors like health and education that are undergoing constant digital transformation come after these top performers. As across the globe, Thai banks and other financial institutions have long since gone digital, ensuring almost all offerings and services can be availed offline.
The third phase of the Digital Thailand programme, which aims to fully integrate digital technology into every sector, is now underway in Thailand, according to Dr Kasititorn. “We have done quite well in terms of basic telecommunications infrastructure with numerous wired and wireless networks nationwide to provide services at a relatively affordable rate with exceptions on the very remote area.”
At this point, Thailand’s challenge is to make sure that these networks are utilised to their full potential. In the agricultural, industrial, and service sectors – which employ practically all the labour force in the nation – they are attempting to speed up the transformation.
During the post-pandemic period, the industrial sector showed signs of improvement while sharing a 2.0 digital adoption rate. The service SMEs that are still falling behind will require more attention, even though the service industries may have been performing relatively well in the digital transformation.
To encourage stakeholders across all industries to go outside of their comfort zones and begin their digital transformation processes, it is still of utmost importance to inform them about the potential that comes with digital technology and innovation.
“We do this with various kinds of support from financial incentives such as tax reduction, exemption, grant funding, and matching funds to non-financial measures such as capacity building, networking, business matching and technical support,” Dr Kasititorn asserts.
Increasing Thailand’s Digital Transformation for Future Landscape
According to Dr Kasititorn, digital transformation is the process of inducing and designing changes that are required to disrupt present processes or practise – at the organisational, industry, or national levels – and is supported by digital innovation. It is necessary to take a comprehensive strategy for transformation, and technology is only one component of what must be done.
At the national level, it frequently entails changes in the thinking of all players involved, notably leaders, as well as laws and rules governing how the country and government operate. In terms of technology, one must recognise that digital is not just an enabler but also a disruptor, necessitating a new way of thinking and planning.
“To drive Digital Transformation in Thailand to make big changes, we should not be only technology users but also be able to build the capacity to create and generate digital innovation along the way. With this, we need to build human capital in both qualitative and quantitative terms,” Dr Kasititorn says emphatically.
She has been involved in at least five national ICT policies during his nearly 20 years of research. The latest and current one is the 20-year Thailand Digital Economy and Society Development Plan, driving towards Digital Thailand. She believes that all her research contributes somewhat to the policy-making process and categorises his research into two different groups.
The first group is the research conducted with the drafting of ICT policy or plans as the objective from the outset.
The second group of research is to conduct research on specific issues ranging from research on the current and future situation of the ICT industry and markets to an international trade negotiation affecting the ICT and digital industry. “Normally, we provide policy recommendations which translated into internal policy or strategy preparation. We are not typically part of the negotiation process, though.”
As a part-time lecturer, Dr Kasititorn teaches courses on either ICT public policy or the socioeconomic implications of technology. “I frame my course in such a way that I will use my practitioner’s experience working in the policy arena to extend the student’s breadth of thinking, rather than theory.”
In this approach, she hopes that learners would grasp Thailand’s digital ecology and terrain, as well as the rapid changes that occur. She wants people to deeply comprehend the socioeconomic progress that digital technology has driven or influenced. “However, I intend to demonstrate how society can determine the path of technology, as well as the interplay between many elements and stakeholders. I like to bring global and national phenomena into the classroom to spark discussion.”
By 2027, most Thais should have inexpensive access to wired and wireless (4G/ 5G service networks), as stipulated by the 2nd Digital Economy Promotion Master Plan (2023–2027), led by the depa, and possess a suitable level of digital literacy. With almost 100,000 digital-based businesses, Thailand’s real-world industries are expected to reach the 3.0–4.0 stage of digital adoption.
The foundation of practical applications that result in long-term socioeconomic effects will be digital technologies such as 5G, IoT, Big Data, AI, Robotics, Blockchain, AR/VR. Robots and AI, for instance, will replace labour-intensive industries like agriculture, manufacturing, and even the service sector, increasing productivity and revenue.
“As a result, we anticipate integrating digital technology and innovation across all sectors – agriculture, manufacturing, and services – to boost the GDP of the nation,” Dr Kasititorn explains.
Included in the 5-year term, the 2nd Digital Economy Promotion Master Plan (2023 – 2027) has been developed to focus on 4 strategies.
- Reskill, upskill, and fill a digital talent pool to create 500,000 digital workers for the digital economy and society;
- Transform the traditional economy into a high-value digital economy, with targets of 100,000 digital-based firms and all actual sectors, including local communities, reaching a Digital Density Index level of 3.0;
- Create new opportunities and inclusive economic development, with one city ranking among the top ten livable smart cities in the world and around 95% of people having digital access and literacy; and
- Optimise the usage of digital infrastructure with the goal of establishing two new significant digital infrastructure projects to build up deep-tech capability and attract three global technology companies to invest in Thailand.
Dr Kasititorn added that to ensure long-term growth, they are constructing a digital ecosystem with the necessary infrastructure. Thailand Digital Valley (TDV), a 12-acre digital innovation centre located in Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), has been built for this aim.
The TDV consists of five cutting-edge buildings equipped with the necessary infrastructure, innovation labs, and a digital ecosystem for world-leading technology firms and Thai digital startups to coexist, fostering the kind of synergy that will aid in the development of new digital products and services that to be sold in both domestic and global markets.
Investors in this special economic zone are also entitled to tax and non-tax benefits such as up to 13 years of exemption from the company and personal income tax, flat-rate personal income tax, and Smart VISA privileges.
Thailand’s primary priority is expected to be digital transformation. The final objective cannot be accomplished just by the government but must be accomplished in partnership with alliances and partners both at home and abroad.
“Our digital vision for Thailand 4.0 is solid, but the sharing of ideas and views is critical to the mission’s success,” says Dr Kasititorn.
The country is looking to explore partnerships and relationships that contribute to the country’s development as well as the world at large. In this vein, she is excited to collaborate with OpenGov Asia and its international networks to identify new opportunities and projects to help Thailand realise its digital potential.
Smart City Projects in Thailand continue to flourish and evolve. In this, the sharing of data across smart city apps and sectors is a financial and technological growth opportunity from which cities can benefit. Sharing between cities and the development of information interchange show that smart cities have reached the next stage of creating value for citizens and local governments.
The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa) is the committee and secretary of the Board of Thailand’s Smart City Development, in addition to encouraging and supporting the economic growth of private enterprises in Thailand.
They manage the planning of Smart City development and provide the rules and mechanisms to sustainably support Smart Cities in Thailand -they ensure that the places need to be well-organised, accessible, and secure.
The Board of Thailand Smart City has decided to construct a City Data Platform (CDP), one of the five Smart City development principles. The CDP is a repository for digital data that facilitates data connectivity and sharing between government departments, private organisations, and municipal residents. To generate the most value for the city, it is also important that personal information be safeguarded.
Smart City: A New Urban Planning Paradigm
In an exclusive interview with Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, Dr Passakon Prathombutr, SEVP/CTO Digital Technology and Innovation Development Unit, Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa), Thailand revealed that there are more than 60 cities around the country that have submitted proposals since the government established the smart city steering committee in 2017.
The committee was eager to promote smart city development and has allowed any city in Thailand to apply for incentives under the government smart city programme.
“Thirty (30) cities have met the requirements and are currently undergoing the development process to become smart cities. Our smart city concept suggests using technology to creatively address urban problems. Of course, the betterment of the citizen is one of the values,” Dr Passakon explains.
Smart cities are multi-sectoral endeavours that have a big impact on daily life with wide-ranging challenges to be addressed. While infrastructure and logistics are issues, he feels the largest obstacle is for city leaders to shift their mindset and accept new technologically based solution paradigms.
Infrastructure and technology are required for a smart city, which has created a substantial market for technology. Numerous opportunities were offered to companies and startups to develop novel solutions.
As part of depa’s approach, according to Dr Passakon, they built an ecosystem to help both the supply and demand sides by utilising a variety of financial channels and capacity-building tools such as training, digital transformation vouchers and business matching.
The City Data Platform (CDP) is the most important part of a Smart City and focuses on the needs and problems of citizens for sustainable development.
“The three features provided by the CDP are the data catalogue, data exchange and data governance allowing a solution provider to quickly examine and incorporate CDP data. The data is mostly open data and follows the same metadata standard for each city,” Dr Passakon elaborates.
He acknowledges that the data is the property of the owners of the data. It could be public or private, hence, the data governance in the CDP would help control the quality of the data and the rights to share.
When it comes to concrete instances and lessons learned from his experience that might be helpful to others, Dr Passakon has suggested starting with the needs of the citizens rather than with technology or solutions. “We must identify the problems, and then match them with practical solutions.”
Dr Passakon knows the importance of engaging the next generation of citizens and is acutely aware of the role of depa. When asked how he encourages the younger generation to take part in smart city projects he shares, “We pass on our knowledge to the next generation via the smart city (young) ambassador programme!”
The Smart City Ambassadors (SCA) Programme aims to encourage the development of smart cities from young people’s fresh viewpoints and to promote local employment that attracts young people to their hometowns.
Before serving as “smart city ambassadors” for participating organisations in the public or private sectors for a period of 12 months, participants receive training to advance their digital skills and fundamental knowledge of smart city development, with the help of local staff serving as their mentors.
They will be able to use their knowledge to address urban problems, identify better city solutions and promote the growth of smart cities in each of their respective regions.
The SCA Programme will be expanded into a second cycle of success, the depa and partners have announced. This time, the goal is to develop the 150 young smart city ambassadors chosen from 150 regions around the country by enhancing their knowledge and abilities in areas pertinent to the mission.
The depa anticipates that the second wave of the SCA Programme will result in 50 emerging smart cities and 150 locations with rising smart city development around the country, in addition to other projects that enhance the quality of life.
The development of smart cities in Thailand is expected to be accelerated by the encouragement of the construction of smart city promotion regions.
Although 105 smart cities are the goal of the national plan for 2027, technology and urban problems will evolve with time. “Our nation needs a sustainable and resilient city that can handle the problem on its own!”
In the next three years, Thailand will deploy best practices and city leaders will become more knowledgeable about digital technology. In addition, over the next five to ten years, the nation will address new challenges and acquire new technologies.
“Today’s solutions will become commonplace as we encounter new issues and technological advancements, necessitating the need for a smarter city. It is a lifelong undertaking,” he acknowledges in conclusion.
At Investor Day in 2021, StarHub showcased DARE+ which changed them from a telco company to an enterprise that helps customers connect their digital lives. DARE+ is anchored on doubling down on going digital, speeding up the creation of value, achieving growth without borders and giving customers a never-ending stream of experiences that give their life colour.
StarHub provides an extensive selection of connection, over-the-top (OTT) streaming entertainment, cloud gaming and digital solutions. It achieves this by dismantling boundaries between services to suit the diverse and expanding requirements and desires of its clients.
DARE+ was based on the successful end of DARE 1.0, which was in October 2021 and saved more than SG$ 270 million in costs – more than the original goal of SG$ 210 million. Operating expenses were also cut by 15% because of DARE 1.0.
In an exclusive interview with Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, Nikhil Eapen, Chief Executive and Executive Director, StarHub explains how the global ICT sector drives growth and how StarHub makes synergistic investments in infrastructure, enterprise communications and technology.
Goal-Oriented Perspective and Foster Creativity
“StarHub will pursue more acquisitions that will increase its scale and footprint, as well as extend its product choices and capabilities for customers,” Nikhil affirms.
Nikhil believes that people are the organisation’s biggest asset and liability. As a result, the team’s working style is also evolving. They’ve changed how they hire people to make the funnel bigger and give them more access to talent and businesses.
To identify the most appropriate and efficient approach to complete a task, Starhub practice agile working which involves bringing together people, processes, connectivity, technology, time and place.
“It’s about business outcomes and not telco outcomes. We are focusing on some exciting outcomes such as Infinity Play, Super App, Cloud Infinity, Green Tech, Cloud + Cloud Connectivity + Cyber. These are war cries for us,” Nikhil elaborates.
“In addition, we participate in initiatives to preserve the environment. This year, StarHub’s staff, including senior executives and customers planted a total of 100 trees in support of the National Parks Board’s OneMillionTrees movement,” says Nikhil.
Nikhil revealed that Starhub has a passion for sustainability and the environment. It was named the world’s most sustainable Wireless Telecommunications Service provider, and Singapore’s most sustainable telco.
It’s not about awards, but about matching the value of their customers and the community. They are a proponent of sustainability. Among their ground-breaking projects are solar-powered Wifi for NUS, rainfall measurement at PUB base stations and smartphone recycling.
They create digital products, solutions, digital engagement, and digital transformations. They provide customers with sophisticated digital experiences that they may self-serve. This has a significant impact in reducing carbon footprint.
As the premier green tech player, they are also developing products, services, and solutions for enterprises. They deploy network-managed sensors, provide dashboards to help companies to monitor their energy efficiency, and implement cloud workloads to gather and store data to optimise their operations management and workflow processes.
“We are also in the business of green enterprises and as a leading green tech for enterprises, we empower and help our clients to go green,” Nikhil says passionately.
StarHub DARE+ Beyond Telco
According to Nikhil, DARE+ is the next major phase in StarHub’s transformation journey. DARE+ is no less ambitious than DARE 1.0 in terms of progress in all areas.
StarHub is evolving from a telecom to a full-service supplier of enriching connectivity, entertainment, and other lifestyle experiences, as well as creative business solutions for its customers, with seamless digital engagement at its foundation.
StarHub drove prepaid aggressively, being the first to introduce free incoming calls and, most importantly, being the first in the world to establish the concept of Quad Play such as mobile, broadband, Pay TV and fixed services.
DARE+ is about becoming a challenger, but it’s more about challenging themself and elevating their aspirations. “We have a long and illustrious history. StarHub was founded about 25 years ago, combining SCV with a fixed license and a third mobile license.”
By enabling an indefinite continuum of connectivity, OTT streaming entertainment, cloud gaming and digital solutions, DARE+ transforms StarHub from quad-play to “Infinity Play,” shattering service silos to meet consumers’ diverse and expanding requirements and desires.
To be effective, “Infinity Play” requires genuine digital engagement, utilising StarHub’s success with its digital platform, which has achieved stellar growth and the highest Net Promoter Score in the market.
With DARE+, StarHub will increase user consumption through an all-encompassing super-app platforms, with the goal of offering as many self-serve, zero-touch services as possible, while achieving speedy time-to-market and minimising cost and capital outlay.
The goal of StarHub is to become the go-to brand for businesses that need cyber security, cloud, ICT and network connectivity by utilising its distinct capability sets and growing ecosystem of reliable partners to cross-sell solutions and push fixed services and 5G connectivity. StarHub will continue to look for acquisitions that will increase its size, footprint and range of products and services available to customers.
DARE+’s digital transformation and fundamental network connectivity with StarHub form its foundation. In August 2020, StarHub launched 5G for the first time in Singapore. StarHub also runs the most lauded network in Singapore, providing users with excellent connections across 4G, 5G and broadband.
To provide clients with the finest access at any time, everywhere, and on any device, StarHub will keep distinguishing its fundamental infrastructure.
Nikhil elaborated on StarHub initiatives to digitally transform and cloud-enable the front- and back-end systems. For the back end, they have a cloud control plane; converging fixed and mobile; network slicing on 5G; and hygiene, scalability and capabilities that equal proximity and power.
For the middle which includes the cloud stack, data lake, and super app for digital engagement, StarHub has the following:
- Scalability, agility – new product cycle, product/pricing change cycle, number of transactions in hundreds per second;
- Customers are empowered to self-serve. Some telcos do this for data, voice and SMS but Starhub do across their products, infinity play;
- Knowing their customer and providing solutions or recommendations;
- Stay up to date on the product.
Finally, for the front-end system, StarHub has externalised its products based on the needs of its consumers and clients including 3C’s (Cybersecurity, Cloud, Connectivity) and mobility as a service reflecting the future of work – not just a connectivity plan, but a whole range of modules from remote working to device security to green-tech.
The 2030 Vision
StarHub has developed greener retail, marketing and communication activities. Some of these areas are embracing paperless technology and responsible consumption, including:
Sending e-invitations and e-cards over the holidays; Electronic versions of newsletters, annual reports, and EGM circulars are accessible; By default, customers receive electronic statements rather than printed bills; Use of electronic versions of vouchers, sales agreements, and work orders; and My StarHub app to supplement e-bill by enabling digital account management for customers.
In terms of responsible consumption, StarHub encourages customers to “Skip the Bag” and bring their bags. Since 2020, they have switched from non-woven bags to FSC MIX-certified biodegradable brown paper bags at their store. They rent set-top boxes, business routers and Optical Network Terminal units.
In addition, used items are repaired and refurbished for redeployment until the end of their life cycle, at which point they are recycled by authorised e-waste collectors.
Nikhil shared StarHub’s 2030 vision and objectives for enhancing environmental resilience and sustainability citing that they are committed to sustainably growing the business – a combination of long-term goals to achieve by 2030, aligned with the Paris Agreement, as well as short-term immediate goals.
In line with the increasing environmental resilience and sustainability, the effects of climate change will continue to worsen as weather patterns become more irregular and long-term temperature fluctuations become more common.
“We are committed to reducing our environmental impact while also ensuring our business remains resilient in the face of climate change,” confirms Nikhil.
They have managed an 8% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions and will target to have a 50% reduction in the same scope by 2030, from a 2019 base year, “This year alone, we will be offsetting our scope1 and 2 carbon greenhouse-gas emissions for our corporate office and four main retail shops. We are also targeting 30% renewable energy use by 2030.”
In addition, StarHub aims to increase its monthly average Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) ratio to 1.70 by 2022 to increase the power usage efficiency of its data centres. For supply chain management, they plan to obtain certification from 70% of their suppliers by 2022 that they will abide by StarHub’s Supplier Code of Conduct.
Moreover, they are digitalising end-to-end green technology services for the government, institutions of higher education (IHL), and businesses. StarHub is advancing the Green Agenda by integrating high-quality, secure internet and cloud-based services.
“These will help us reduce energy and water usage – not just from the StarHub point of view, but also from a nationwide one,” Nikhil ended.
In his personal life, Nikhil is as conscientious. He also loves using public transportation like the MRT, buses, and e-bikes. “For the last 7–8 years we’ve been driving electric cars. I even ride an electric bike.”
As a family, he reveals that they are quite idealistic about being environmentally conscious, but their actions probably trail behind their words. They throw less, recycle more and only buy what they need. They also try to eat as little beef as possible.
“In the end, sustainability is a personal, corporate and societal endeavour. For better or for worse, we are all in it together, so we all must do our bit,” Nikhil says emphatically.
Innovation is the process of replacing the outdated or less efficient or bettering them. It is a tool used by entrepreneurs to take advantage of developments to start new businesses or tweak existing ones. An innovative, successful entrepreneur can come up with new products, models or methods that meet the needs and or will serve trends in the market.
Innovation comes by observing and analysing trends and helps a business either cope with these or create new opportunities. Moreover, a brand’s nature, inventiveness and design-thinking processes are enhanced through innovation. By learning how to be creative and leverage innovative developments, a business can stay at the top of its field.
In an exclusive interview with Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, Shirley Wong, Chairperson, Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) explained why innovation is at the heart of entrepreneurship.
Innovative Solutions for a Sustainable & Resilient Future
Shirley feels that the concept of urban innovation is intrinsically linked to the highly trendy term “smart.” Smart encapsulates the provisions, solutions and methods used to resolve the issues of large cities. With significant deviations from the norm, the landscape is incredibly inventive in the urban sector.
The urban context is becoming progressively significant with the world slated to become predominantly cities in the near future. Moreover, in an increasingly VUCA environment, this transition is accompanied by a plethora of cyber and physical dangers.
“The goal of such innovation is to improve the lives and quality of all people by an ideal coming together of social and economic needs. As such, the sector gives birth to more meticulous and creative thoughts,” observes Shirley.
By enabling smarter social and economic convergence, participation and mobility solutions, these innovations can enhance the quality of life in urban areas. Newly designed innovations in these areas provide a sustainable future – and a secure, safer one.
In addition, innovation is not necessarily meant to create a new product – it might be an innovative service, a one-of-a-kind offering for customers or just a better, more efficient way of doing something.
At the end of the day, Shirley adds, that the most important thing about innovation is that it is driven by excellence and is always looking for ways to get better. “Innovating is a continuous process of evolving and improving and I think there’s no end to it.”
Strategy and innovation are much more likely to be successful when design principles are used – design thinking makes products and services more appealing to the people who use them. Thus, agility and progress are the paths that will lead to innovative thinking for the future.
Shirley expanded on the types of innovative business entrepreneurs. According to her, enterprise entrepreneurs may employ innovation to generate new concepts for long-established organisations. This might aid a business in being relevant and competitive in the market. “These are the innovations backed by corporations,” says Shirley.
Social entrepreneurship, on the other hand, seeks to tackle community issues along with its product or service. These items can encourage beneficial changes in community behaviour. Typically, social entrepreneurs evaluate their success by the extent to which they have improved their community, as opposed to their profitability.
Start-up entrepreneurs invent a singular, industry-unique product or service. To ensure the success of their start-up, entrepreneurs may employ creative customer retention techniques.
“All forms of entrepreneurship, including social, start-up and enterprise, ultimately have a bottom-line,” Shirley says. “The concept or measure of profitability is diverse and may not necessarily be counted in terms of money.”
A Glimpse of the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) 11th Edition
Shirley encourages the support of the public and collaboration for the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) – a biennial international university start-up competition held in Singapore. The programme is named after Singapore’s first Prime Minister, who developed the country’s foundational business strategy and brought Singapore to the global stage.
The Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Singapore Management University organises the competition, which focuses on urban concepts and solutions produced by student entrepreneurs and early-stage start-ups. It is positioned as a campus innovation movement with the goal of developing a worldwide start-up ecosystem that includes investors such as venture capitalists, corporations, and governments.
The competition sustains this spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation, and ambition by bringing together the world’s most inventive institutions to confront and imagine the concerns of the twenty-first century.
The 11th edition of LKYGBPC has the theme “Innovation Beyond Boundaries – Reimagining a Smart, Sustainable & Resilient Future,” and will culminate with the Finals Week (BLAZE) on 11 to 15 September 2023 in Singapore.
Urban Solutions and Sustainability, Manufacturing, Trade, and Connectivity, Human Health and Potential, Smart Nation and Digital Economy, and Media and Entertainment are the main areas of focus for the upcoming competition.
LKYGBPC has a target audience of
- Start-Ups: To present innovative solutions to international investors to win attractive prizes in cash and in-kind, meet corporate decision-makers and expand networks;
- Investors: Access a pool of start-ups from the world’s brightest, young minds to find the next unicorn;
- Corporates: Expose brand to a wide audience, stay on the pulse of the latest developments impacting the start-up eco-system and key industries, the source for innovative ideas and top talent; and
- Governments: To play a vital role in nurturing a digital future, by fostering fresh ideas and solutions that can generate social and enterprise values.
The competition will launch in late October 2022, and the deadline for application would be in March 2023. During the application period, roadshows will be held at various university campuses and incubators located across the globe, including Leuven and Helsinki in Europe, Cambridge in the United Kingdom, Shanghai, Mumbai and Nagoya in Asia, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta in Southeast Asia, and Melbourne in Oceania, are among the event’s highlights.
Online judging by an international panel of judges will happen between May and June 2023 to shortlist 150 teams for the next phase. Applications are judged on their inventiveness, commercial viability, idea impact, and execution capability.
The top finalist teams (RVLT50) will be named in June 2023, From June to August 2023, there will be mentoring sessions and workshops, such as Changemakers Conversations.
In September 2023, RVLT50 will go to Singapore for a week-long immersion programme called BLAZE. The programme will have VC Office Hours, networking sessions, facility visits, mentoring sessions, Category Finals (Semi-Finals), a Grand Finals Pitch, and an Awards Dinner.
There will also be thought-leadership panel discussions where well-known industry experts, tech start-ups, and academics will talk about hot issues and topics in the global start-up scene and share their knowledge and experiences.
Last but not least, BLAZE will play host to Southeast Asia’s largest gathering of senior venture capitalists offering free one-on-one advice to start-ups, especially those in their early stages.
Happiness Resulting from the Provision of a Solution
Shirley is proud to have been an entrepreneur for many years and that her interest is in creating and expanding enduring enterprises. With over 30 years of experience in the IT & Technology industry, her recent priorities have shifted to investing in and coaching technology-based businesses – though her enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and cutting-edge technology to boost productivity has not diminished in any way.
She actively supports entrepreneurs in the start-up industry in their pursuit of capital and market access. “Building a business not only for myself but also for everyone around me, particularly those who had the same passion and aspirations to be an entrepreneur.”
Shirley is thrilled to observe the difference in her customers’ lives before and after implementing the remedy she proposed, as well as how much businesses flourished. “That encourages me to persevere and strive to do better for them.”
From 2013 to 2016, she was the head of the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation, now renamed SGTECH. She has been involved in the start-up scene, helping start-ups get funding, access to resources, market connections and go to markets.
She sits on the judging panels for events like the President Science & Technology Awards, the Techblazer Awards, and the Asia Pacific ICT Awards, among others. Shirley described her experience as chairman of LKYGBPC as “exciting.”
“The amount of effort that we put into the programme and for those who come to support us gets better, bigger and more significant,” Shirley is delighted to share. “In five to 10 years, LKYGBPC will function at the forefront of entrepreneurial innovation and will go beyond the competition as we want start-up firms to experience the dynamic environment that Singapore provides for entrepreneurs.”
“Through our platform, start-up companies will have access to a network in Singapore, which I believe is unprecedented. We should be the best conduit for their regional connectivity,” Shirley declares.
Shirley serves on the board of Assurity Trusted Solutions, DSO National Laboratories, National Kidney Foundation and Yellow Ribbon Singapore. She is currently a member of CAAS authority committee member of the Cybersecurity and Data Governance committee, the PDPA Advisory and the SIA Engineering Technology Advisory board. She previously served on the board of Singapore Science Center, Infocomm Development Authority, Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore and Accel Systems & Technologies.
In the first Singapore 100 Women in Tech List, which came out in 2020, Shirley was named one of the 100 women who had done great things and made important contributions to tech.
As the chair of the Group of 20 major economies (G20), Indonesia has begun discussions with members on standardising health norms for travel, emphasising the significance of harmonising rules and technology as global travel resumes in earnest.
Standardising health regulations for travel is crucial as certifications issued in one nation may currently be incompatible with one another, making international travel more of a hassle than it has to be.
Indonesia recommends that standardisation follow COVID-19 regulations of various nations, including whether vaccines, tests, or testing authorities would be recognised. It is also proposing streamlining rules for travel between the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Technology’s Role in Healthcare
Organisations in the public and private sectors have accelerated their digital transformation to combat the challenges caused by the global pandemic. The adoption of technologies like IoT, AI and robotics has grown significantly because of the digital transformation journey, catalysing beneficial change.
“Technology and related systems can help find diseases and stop them from spreading, but the most important thing is to keep diseases from happening in the first place,” says Setiaji. “As an initial response, the government can use a variety of new technologies and Indonesia has already greatly minimised the impact of the pandemic using technology.”
The potential advantages that digital transformation offers have been carefully studied by the Indonesian government. The country is eager to deploy the use of digital technology to involve citizens in governance, economic recovery and overall development.
Indonesia’s rapid urbanisation makes it an ideal candidate for smart city innovations. The country is unique in its rapidly depleting coal reserves, shift away from being the world’s largest recycler of plastic waste and push to bolster economic growth through digitalisation, with incentives to encourage people to build more sustainable cities.
“Healthcare is a basic need for Indonesians, as it is for the whole world,” agrees Setiaji. “The Indonesian Ministry of Health is focusing on accelerating the nation’s healthcare system for the benefit of the public.”
The nation recently unveiled its first digital health blueprint, laying the groundwork for the country’s digitalisation of health services to expand inclusive health care coverage for its 270 million citizens. The blueprint guides the government to utilise digital technologies to advance its national objective of offering universal, affordable, equitable and high-quality care to all Indonesians.
The digital health blueprint lays a foundation for developing Indonesia’s enterprise architecture for health technology. It is supported by important pillars like the digital integration of patient and healthcare provider health information and the coordinated development of digital health infrastructure.
Setiaji, who oversees the digital and information team, says that improvements in healthcare technology are being used to modernise the healthcare sector and help close the gap between urban and rural areas. Moreover, the Indonesian government is aggressively addressing the country’s health data system.
New technologies like smartphone apps and other types of telemedicine are improving the quality of health care in Indonesia and making it easier for people in the most remote parts of the archipelago to get services.
A great example was the contact tracing mobile app – PeduliLindungi – used as part of a plan to stop COVID-19 from spreading further in the country.
G20 Health Protocol Standardisation
In its role as president of the Group of Twenty (G20), Indonesia has initiated discussions with the group’s members to establish standardised health protocols for international travel, as nations gradually cautiously lift border restrictions.
“We require a COVID-19 standard vaccine passport to recognise each other’s countries and to move and recover more quickly from pandemics,” says Setiaji. “Synchronised, harmonised global health protocols are required for safer international travel and to expedite the permanent social and economic recovery.”
Indonesia is eager to make sure that safe and healthy travel procedures are the same everywhere, especially when it comes to the recognition of COVID-19 vaccine certificates. A plan was recently announced to make the digital COVID-19 vaccine certificates more uniform by using a universal verifier made to WHO standards. The system is web-based and can be used on any device. Each country does not have to change the way QR codes are used or the system itself.
Health guidelines vary from country to country, with some being stricter than others. So, each country has the freedom to use the health protocols that are right for them, with clear and universal rules. This strengthens the global health system and makes it easier to travel between countries.
In addition, health protocols need to be synchronised so that health information can flow between systems. This process is likely to start in the countries that are part of the G20 and then spread to other countries. They are also looking for a third party to run the system independently.
If successful, Setiaji believes that similar regulations can be made by the ASEAN countries. “This vision isn’t just for the G20 countries; it’s also for the rest of the world. To this end, we have already begun building partnerships with other countries.”
Data in the Healthcare Space
Digitalisation is reshaping the way the Healthcare sector interacts with healthcare professionals, medical data is shared or decisions are made in the context of treatment and outcomes. Some examples of healthcare digitalisation are Artificial Intelligence-powered medical devices, telemedicine, blockchain, remote-patient monitoring and electronic health records.
The main aim of healthcare innovation is to streamline medical professionals’ work, optimise medical software systems, reduce human errors, improve patient outcomes and lower costs through integrated web and mobile experiences. However, to get the best results for the patients, it is necessary to share their data. There are ways to do this while maintaining patient privacy and data security, according to Setiaji.
Setiaji emphasises that security by design is needed in creating a new, more secure hardware and software ecosystem. This will radically update the foundation of the insecure digital computing infrastructure. It is also needed security standards in which the principal objective is to reduce the risks, including preventing or mitigating cyber-attacks.
The adoption of information systems in public health management in Indonesia aims to manage the data properly to improve the effectiveness of the provision of health services. “We also work with other government agencies and partners to secure data in the healthcare sector,” Setiaji reveals.
Data in the healthcare space needs to be always available, thus as part of the country’s health technology transformation pillar, Indonesia’s Health Ministry recently launched the Indonesia Health Services platform.
The SATUSEHAT platform aims to support the implementation of other transformation pillars of Indonesian health systems, such as primary services transformation, referral services transformation, health resilience systems transformation, health financing systems transformation and human resource transformation in the health sector.
This comes as the ministry aims to integrate the platform into 8,000 health facilities across the country by the end of this year.
For the healthcare industry to pursue digital transformation, Setiaji believes the entire nation must have a clear understanding of its mission and vision. The road to successful digital transformation is paved with courageous leadership decisions, political consensus and the support of the population at large. “Collaboration is also essential, as the transformation process cannot be carried out by a single individual or party.”
Setiaji is convinced that the digital transformation of Indonesia’s healthcare industry within the next three to five years is possible by establishing a solid foundation within the healthcare system. His goals include producing more health mobile apps for public accessibility, improving the health policy and system, and establishing businesses with unicorn status that are growing rapidly. He is confident that the future of healthcare and patient outcomes in Indonesia is bright given the nation’s focus and dedication to serving its citizens.
Intelligent automation (IA) has become the new norm for the public sector in today’s increasingly digital and tech-enabled environment. Automation in repetitive tasks allows businesses to increase their efficiency. However, next-level performance can only happen by applying intelligent automation across a gamut of duties.
The public sector typically deals with large amounts of manual, repetitive administrative tasks, which can take valuable time away from strategic work. Intelligent automation can be a game changer in improving service delivery, as VITAL, the Singapore Government’s shared services department has demonstrated.
In an exclusive interview with Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, Dennis Lui, Chief Executive, VITAL, Ministry of Finance and Wong Wen-Ming, Vice President and Managing Director, Southeast Asia, UiPath shared in-depth insights on how intelligent automation betters public services.
Intelligent Automation for the Public Sector
In embracing software automation, the Singaporean government’s shared services department has effectively freed up human resources for more creative and higher-order tasks while bettering services. VITAL has been leveraging software automation to realise its vision of every officer becoming a citizen developer, building robots for themselves and their colleagues using low- or no-code tools, from automating deposit creation to using AI to sift through resumes in the hiring process.
Right at the recruitment stage, software automation helped HR employees to shortlist candidates more rapidly, saving them time and allowing them to concentrate on analysing more qualified prospects.
Dennis shared that the government is attempting to scale digital solutions despite facing numerous challenges. “Most government agencies are looking into or offering digital services to citizens and other stakeholders, but many of the problems they face are not technical,” Dennis observes.
Scaling digital is hard because strategy and decisions are made in silos, people are afraid to take risks, and there are not enough funds. Important to digital transformation in government is taking immediate action on these concerns, which can range from dismantling organisational silos to addressing digital skills gaps and a lack of resources. If left unaddressed, these key problems, though not technical, put digital government programmes at risk and make it hard to keep budget allocations and get the benefits that were promised.
Solutions have to be implemented to deal with these issues, such as governance frameworks, building culture and consensus across the organisation and improving digital skills.
As Singapore’s government adds more digital services, the country needs to come up with standards and guidelines to make sure that users have a full and consistent experience. “Standardisation is a very important thing to do.”
The Digital Service Standards (DSS) have helped agencies set up their digital services so they can meet the goal of the Digital Government Blueprint (DGB), which is to give citizens and businesses digital services that are easy, seamless and useful.
All digital services that the government offers to the public must meet the DSS. The government also does “mystery shopping” based on the DSS to make sure that digital services are always set up in a way that meets the goals of the DGB.
Data consolidation is a crucial step in the integration and management of data operations. It makes all data management information accessible quickly and readily and centralising all data boosts productivity and efficiency.
Robotic process automation (RPA) has quickly become one of the most important aspects, assisting businesses in increasing productivity and long-term success. Although RPA is only one piece of the modern business technology puzzle, it is frequently used as an introduction to the convenience and speed that automation can bring to a business.
With rules-based software robots performing repetitive operations that are typically marred by human mistakes, the government can provide a more efficient and accurate service to the public.
Flexible automation technologies are required for advanced manufacturing and assembly of discrete goods to increase production efficiencies and enhance product quality. This is especially true in the production of products with a diverse product mix and fluctuating production quantities.
Although industrial robots allow for a great deal of production and assembly flexibility, they lack the precision required for precise manufacturing and assembly operations.
People often say that the goal of public sector services is to serve the people, thus employees can be more productive and happier at work with the help of software robots. This is good for both employees and the company – and citizens.
Furthermore, automation not only makes it easier for the government to do its job but also makes life better for both employees and the public. As automation spreads through the public sector, it gives workers more time to improve how people interact with the government.
Dennis highlighted that as part of its RPA journey, VITAL has made a “bot library” with automation best practices and scripts for more than 100 Singaporean government agencies. Since 2017, the organisation’s digital roadmap has been built around automation. And VITAL has moved on to putting in place automation that works without a person present and adopting a citizen developer strategy.
He also shared that the goal of VITAL is for every officer to be able to build robots for themselves and their co-workers using low-code or no-code tools like UiPath StudioX. Having a tool for automation that doesn’t require much or any coding has helped VITAL scale automation faster.
The UiPath Platform is a good alternative for non-IT-trained officers who find it hard to learn the standard RPA developer software on top of their regular work. It is easier to learn than the standard software.
As part of a low-code or no-code solution, VITAL is starting to use citizen developers. When talking about scalability, it is how they can scale RPA with enough flexibility and agility.
“Upskilling Singaporeans could result in more investment and high-end manufacturing in Singapore,” Dennis believes.
In five years, he envisions using automation in the public sector by utilising an extremely powerful central north of the organisation that provides intelligent operation while providing extremely productive human resources.
How to Become a Fully Automated Enterprise
“This implies that many everyday programmes, such as spam filters and antivirus software, could be regarded as software robots,” says Wen-Ming. ” UiPath is a robotic process automation tool for large-scale end-to-end automation.”
The primary distinction between a fully automated enterprise and a traditional enterprise is their automation approaches. A fully automated enterprise approaches automation proactive, whereas a traditional enterprise approaches it reactively.
A fully automated enterprise considers automation first and applies it where it makes the most sense and has the most impact. A fully automated enterprise strikes the proper balance between what software robots can do and what humans can focus on.
The following are the four Pillars of a fully automated enterprise:
- Assigns all automatable work to software robots to make back-office work invisible;
- Provides a robot for every employee;
- democratises development, allowing power users to rapidly create new automation and applications; and
- Integrates AI into all aspects of work, expanding the footprint of automation into cognitive processes to automate even more.
“These pillars are a response to real, material outcomes that we’re observing in the industry,” says Wen-Ming.
RPA can increase productivity to offer more accurate intelligence data as well as give users real-time access to financial data with reporting and analytical capabilities. It functions best when used with routine, rule-based processes that call for manual inputs. There aren’t many, if any, alterations needed to implement the automation because the software robot uses another programme UIs.
Governments are still struggling to balance their budgets and use their limited IT resources effectively, but technological advancements are enabling automation solutions to increase operational efficiencies. Digital transformation for all levels of government solves the problem of doing more with less by modernising government technology.
Along with the surge in developing technologies, constrained budgets, and overstressed IT, staff, new possibilities for government task automation have emerged, pushing operational efficiencies for governments of all sizes.
For the government, automation is not a novel technology. However, as process robots and artificial intelligence advance, workload automation is becoming increasingly important in streamlining work traditionally performed by government employees.
Public institutions throughout the world have struggled to handle citizen demands during the pandemic, such as the surge in calls to contact centres.
UiPath helped VITAL and other public sector organisations achieve their IT objectives. Some assistance with establishing virtual contact centres. Agencies can offer round-the-clock support with software robots. And robots can respond to many queries with personalised responses.
If a situation worsens, contact centre representatives are available to provide a human touch. As soon as citizens’ wants are addressed, their faith in the government grows, which strengthens the bonds between the two.
“RPA automation fits well into that overall goal, as does speeding up its revolutionary adoption across all ministries,” says Wen-Ming.
Automation was still relatively unknown in those early days, he says, “But through a virus programme that we implemented, we attempted to raise awareness of how automated automation can transform a business.”
Because VITAL is the public sector’s advisor and this is public information, Dennis and his team have been at the forefront of encouragement, according to Wen-Ming.
RPA automation knowledge should be embedded in polytechnics and universities. As they embark on this journey, consider the technology or business streams – when they graduate, they intend to work with RPA automation in mind.
Furthermore, Asian adoption and thinking outside the box are required. “Yes, and we provide the necessary technology and enablement to empower all ministries and agencies to scale.”
Wen-Ming recognises that the future of work is changing and software automation has emerged as the perfect solution. Hence, human workers can be freed from tedious and repetitive administrative activities by using digital workers on intelligent automation platforms to learn and execute human-like business procedures.
These simplify work procedures and, most crucially, provide human employees more time to complete work of greater value and to feel more purposeful both within the organisation and for themselves.
Building up the skills of employees will be important for businesses. Organisations’ education and training policies should encourage workers to learn automation skills that are in demand and give them chances to improve their skills so they can keep up with changes in technology.
“I think communication is critical communication, a form of raising the level of awareness that automation is going to be here to assist,” Wen-Ming is firmly convinced.
He emphasises the importance of ensuring that everyone is more productive and accurate and that they have more time to upskill themselves to do something much more strategic.
The entire mindset, acceptance, adoption and awareness are critical to ensuring that the workforce has embraced rather than resisted automation. The same with manufacturing process automation – it should be adopted by businesses as it will soon become a standard tool in the manufacturing industry.
Wen-Ming is optimistic about the role of IA, RPA and technology down the road. “I think three to five years from now – what I wish, and I think it’s going to happen – automation will go beyond just a robotic process. I think bots that mimic human thinking will become a part of daily life and, hopefully, help to build a better world.”
Data is information that has been organised in a way that makes it simple to move or process. It is a piece of information that has been converted into binary digital form for computers and modern methods of information transmission.
Connected data, on the other hand, is a method of displaying, using, and preserving relationships between data elements. Graph technology aids in uncovering links in data that conventional approaches are unable to uncover or analyse.
Different sectors have invested in big data technologies because of the promise of valuable business insights. As a result, various industries express a need for connected data, particularly when it comes to connecting people such as employees or customers to products, business processes and other Internet-enabled devices (IoT).
Connected data enables businesses
A great example of the power of graph technology, and a very common use case for Neo4j, is its use in the financial sector to uncover fraud. Finding fraud is all about trying to make connections and understand relationships, Chandra elaborates. A graph-based system could detect if fraud is taking place in one location and determine if the same scenario has occurred in other locations.
“How does one make sense of this? Essentially, you are traversing a network of interconnected data using the relationships between that data. Then you begin to see patterns develop and these patterns provide you with answers so that you can conclude whether there is fraud.”
What is of great concern is that fraud is occurring with much greater frequency and with a higher success rate nowadays. The key to stopping and mitigating the impact is time. Instead of detecting a fraud that occurred hours or days ago,
“What if the organisation could detect it almost immediately and in real-time as it occurs?” asks Chandra. “Graph offers this kind of response and is why it’s a great example of value!”
Supply chain and management are other excellent examples of RoI. One of Neo4j’s clients, which operates arguably the largest rail network in the United States and North America created a digital twin of the entire rail network and all the goods. With graph technology across their network, they can now do all kinds of interesting optimisation much faster, leading to better, more efficient outcomes for their entire system.
The pandemic has taught the world about the value and fragility of supply chains. Systems across the globe are being reimagined as the world’s economy realise the need to become more digital and strategic. More supply sources, data, data sharing, customer demands, and increased complexity necessitate modern, purpose-built solutions.
Apart from all the new expectations and requirements for modern supply chains, systems need to and are becoming more interconnected because of new technologies.
Maintaining consistent profitability is difficult for firms with a high proportion of assets. Executives must oversee intricate worldwide supply chains, extensive asset inventories and field operations that dispatch workers to dangerous or inaccessible places.
With this, organisations need a platform that connects their workforces and makes them more capable, productive and efficient. A platform that provides enterprises with real-time visibility and connectivity, while also assuring efficiency, safety, and compliance.
Modern technologies are required to improve interconnectivity, maximise the value of data, automate essential procedures, and optimise the organisation’s most vital workflows.
Modern data applications require a connected platform
“When we programme, when we create applications, we think in what we are calling a graph. This is the most intuitive approach that you can have,” says Chandra.
Any application development begins with understanding the types of questions people want to solve and then mapping it to a wide range of outcomes that they want to achieve. These are typically mapped in what is known as an entity relationship diagram.
Individuals’ increased reliance on systems that work in a way that makes sense to them and supports them has increased criticality. And frequently, when these systems fail, Neo4j makes sense of complexity and simplifies what needs to be done, resulting in a significant acceleration.
As the world becomes more collaborative, integrated, and networked, nations must respond more quickly to changes in their business environment brought on by the digital era; otherwise, they risk falling behind or entering survival mode.
The proliferation of new technologies, platforms, and devices, as well as the evolving nature of work, are compelling businesses to recognise the significance of leveraging the most recent technology to achieve greater operational efficiencies and business agility.
A graph platform connects individuals to what they require, and when and when they require it. It augments their existing process by facilitating the effective recording and management of personnel data. Neo4j Graph Data Science assists data scientists in finding connections in huge data to resolve important business issues and enhance predictions.
Businesses employ insights from graph data science to discover activities that point to fraud, find entities or people who are similar, enhance customer happiness through improved suggestions, and streamline supply chains. The dedicated workspace combines intake, analysis, and management for simple model improvement without workflow reconstruction.
As a result, people are more engaged, productive, and efficient with connected data. Nations can bridge information and communication gaps between executive teams, field technicians, plant operators, warehouse operators and maintenance engineers. Increasing agility and productivity offers obvious commercial benefits.
In short, organisations easily integrate their whole industrial workforce to increase operational excellence and decrease plant downtime, hence maximising revenues. This methodology is based on a collaborative platform direction.
Contextualising data increases its value
According to Chandra, data is a representation of the world in which people live, and people use data to represent this world. As a result, the world is becoming more connected, and people no longer live in silos and continue to be associated in society.
“If you think about data as the representation of the world that we live in, it is connected data and we can deal with all the complexities that we need to deal with when we try to make sense out of it,” explains Chandra.
Closer to home, connected data is crucial to Singapore’s development as a smart nation. “Connected data is at the centre of each of those conversations around developing the nation. When you think of Singapore as a connected ecosystem and when you think about citizens, services, logistics, contract tracing, and supply chain.”
Chandra believes that the attributes have saved the connection between data and people, which is why connections are important. Once people understand those connections, it becomes much easier and much faster to derive the insights that are required.
Without connected data, organisations lack key information needed to gain a deeper understanding of their customers, build a complete network topology, deliver relevant recommendations in real-time, or gain the visibility needed to prevent fraud.
Thus, “knowing your customer is understanding connected data.” With the right tools, data may be a real-time, demand-driven asset that a financial institution can utilise to reinvent ineffective processes and procedures and change how it interacts with and comprehends its consumers.
“Me as a person – who I am, my name, where I live – these are all properties of who I am. But what really makes me me, are the relationships I have built over time. And so, the notion that almost every problem has data that you can really make sense of with graphs is the larger “Aha” moment,” Chandra ends.